Last week in Come, Follow Me we read about the Savior’s suffering in Gethsemane. I was also preparing to speak on Sunday about the Atonement. I reflected frequently on what I know and continue to learn about the Atonement. These are a few of the lessons that came to mind as I read and pondered Matthew 26 and Mark 14.
Even Jesus wanted to give up: “let this cup pass from me” says so much to me about the extremes and agonies of Christ’s atoning sacrifice. One of the miracles of the Atonement is that He wanted to make the suffering stop…but He completed it because He knew that it was necessary to provide the opportunity for repentance and eternal life for all of God’s children.
Weak things become strong: to me, the Atonement provides the opportunity for transformation––not just sinner to saint, or mortal to immortal, but also shy person to enthusiastic ministering sister/brother, or socially awkward to strong friendshipper. In a miraculous way through the Atonement, Christ is able to step into our weaknesses, give us His strength to begin improving, and teach us how to improve.
Will power and energy: on my mission I learned that even when bone tired and without energy, I could keep working if I had the desire/will power.
He really does understand: again, a miracle of the Atonement I don’t fully comprehend, but I know Christ understands each and every person who has ever lived on earth. He knows what we’re going through, and He CAN help.
Being enough: not sure what I meant by this originally but we all need to embrace the fact that Christ loves us––imperfect us––just the way we are. He loves us enough to also see our eternal potential and encourage and facilitate its development.
Joy in misery: this is another transformation topic I ponder…the fact that even in the midst of experiencing tremendous pain, disappointment, or misery, we can experience joy in the Gospel through Jesus Christ.
Just me and God: learning to rely on God without having anyone else physically present on whom I could rely was a fear-inducing but necessary lesson. While studying Come, Follow Me I have reflected on how confident Jesus must have been to teach the way He did, prophesy the things He prophesied, and pursue His path to Atonement, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. God the Father was His bedrock and He needs to be ours as well.
Change and transformation are two of my favorite Gospel topics. I find it so compelling that a person can identify character traits, desires, behaviors and more that they want to refine or change and become a new, better person. The source of the power that effects those changes? Jesus Christ.
This morning I retold the story of the marriage feast at Cana (John 2:1-11, NT). My kids could understand how special the occasion was and that running out of wine was a big problem. Thinking ahead, I had poured a glass of apple cider and hidden it on my counter. As I told my kids how Jesus’ mother instructed the servant to “do whatever he tells you,” I pulled a matching glass out of my cupboard and filled it with water to illustrate Jesus’ instructions. I turned my back to the kids while describing the instructions to fill a cup and take it to the governor of the feast. I poured some of the water into my pre-filled glass of cider. Swapping the glasses, I handed the apple cider to one of my kids and asked her what her drink tasted like. Apple cider!
We talked about Jesus’ divinity and how he could transform water into the best wine. The kids had good thoughts to share about Jesus’ power to create, change things, and transform them. I testified of His power to transform us if we will identify those parts of our lives we want to change and seek His help.
When I was a child, friendship became a sore point for me. I had trouble making and keeping friends. It seemed every friend I made at school eventually decided they would rather be friends with someone else. I did not have the worst or most lonely childhood, but I did often reflect on the nature of friendship and wondered if I would ever have enduring friendships outside of my family.
Friendship came to mind as I read Mosiah 21:30-32, in which the writer records a change of attitude toward Alma and his people. Alma and his followers had fled into the wilderness to escape King Noah and his goons. It is safe to say that Alma and his people had made themselves social outcasts by embracing the Gospel and entering the waters of baptism (the rest of their society was still wicked). It is also safe to say that Noah’s people were not friends with Alma’s people and they didn’t really care what happened to Alma’s group.
The change in attitude recorded in Mosiah 21 is striking. First we read that the envoys from King Mosiah feel sorrow for the loss of Alma and his people, “[y]ea they did mourn for their departure” (v. 31). Ammon’s group had never even met Alma! But because “they themselves had entered into a covenant with God” they “would have gladly joined with [Alma’s group].” Both Ammon’s group and Alma’s group had made covenants with God and it seems to me that Ammon’s group felt an immediate kinship with them. As I read verse 31, I felt that Limhi’s people were implicitly included in the kinship hinted at because “king Limhi had also entered into a covenant with God, and also many of his people” (v. 32).
I no longer worry so much about friendship, partly because I have discovered wonderful people to become friends with. But also because I have learned the power of covenant friendships. When I have lived and travel abroad I feel an immediate and close attachment to people I meet in whom I sense a deep commitment to God. Shared belief creates a foundation on which we build our friendship. My covenants lead me to try to see people as God sees them. I focus on service and Christ-like love. The shared experience of our faith knits our hearts together.